Notes: Tiger ditches Torrey, plans on Pebble

By Doug FergusonNovember 22, 2011, 8:00 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia – Tiger Woods appeared to turn his back on Torrey Pines when he announced last week that he would open his 2012 season that week in Abu Dhabi at the HSBC Championship, with an appearance fee that likely approaches $3 million.

Woods not only is a seven-time winner at Torrey Pines – including the 2008 U.S. Open – he has started every season when healthy in San Diego since 2006, and the Farmers Insurance Open was the only California event he played during the West Coast swing.

But there’s a bigger picture to his scheduling.

Indications are that Woods plans a return to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time since 2002.

Such a move would make sense. Even though AT&T became the second corporate sponsor to drop Woods after revelations of his extramarital affairs in November 2009, it stayed on as the title sponsor of his tournament. Woods no longer is the official host of the AT&T National in early July, but his foundation remains the main charity beneficiary.

Woods had planned to play Pebble Beach in 2010 when he had the AT&T logo on his bag, though that was before his personal life imploded. He could not play last year because it was opposite the Dubai Desert Classic, and Woods was fulfilling an existing contract.

Since he last played the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the tournament has improved by trimming the field from 180 players to 156 players, and taking Poppy Hills out of the rotation and replacing it with the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula.

Woods last played Pebble Beach in 2010 at the U.S. Open, when he shot 75 in the final round and tied for fourth. His link to Pebble Beach will always be 2000, when he came from five shots behind in the last round to win the AT&T for his seventh straight PGA Tour victory, then shattered records with a 15-shot win at the U.S. Open that summer.

As for Abu Dhabi?

It had the strongest field of any European Tour event this year outside the majors and World Golf Championships, yet the title sponsor cannot be overlooked. HSBC is one of the primary corporate sponsors (AT&T is another) of the Tiger Woods Foundation, which includes being a founding partner of the Tiger Woods Learning Center.

Besides, there is precedence to Woods skipping Torrey Pines.

In his first full year on the PGA Tour, he instead went overseas for two weeks of appearance money. Woods won the Asian Honda Classic and tied for eighth in the Australian Masters. That was two months before he won the 1997 Masters.


NEXT UP: When Nick Price was last seen at the Presidents Cup, the tension was so high in South Africa that he snapped a putter over his knee on the 18th hole at Fancourt. His next appearance is likely to be as the International team captain.

Price fits the profile as a three-time major champion, an immensely popular player from Zimbabwe who was No. 1 in the world and played on the first five teams.

As for the United States’ next captain? That’s where it gets a little more up in the air.

The logical choice would be Mark O’Meara, snubbed by the PGA of America as captain of the Ryder Cup went it went to Ireland in 2006. The two-time major champion is interested in the job and was the first player to go 5-0 in the Presidents Cup.

Other options could be Kenny Perry, a three-time winner of the Memorial at Muirfield Village, site of the 2013 Presidents Cup. The PGA Tour might also inquire about Tom Watson, in keeping with earlier times of the Presidents Cup when the captains included Arnold Palmer, Peter Thomson, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.


WORLD CUP: Gareth Paddison of New Zealand was raving about the power of Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, asking which of them could hit it the longest off the tee. A short time later, Paddison mentioned how thrilled he was that he and Michael Hendry would be playing in the World Cup, which starts Thursday at Mission Hills in China.

Paddison holed a bunker shot in the playoff as New Zealand earned one of three spots in a qualifier at Malaysia. The Kiwis will be part of the 28-man field.

“I know Matt Kuchar is playing for the United States,” Paddison said. “I don’t know much about the other guy.”

For someone intrigued by sheer power, wait until Paddison gets his eyes on Gary Woodland.

Kuchar and Woodland will try to end a 10-year losing streak by the Americans, who once dominated an event that dates to 1953. They will be far from favorites, however. Far from it.

Northern Ireland is sending the last two U.S. Open champions (Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell), while South Africa counters with Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. Ian Poulter and Justin Rose are playing for England. The defending champion from 2009 is Italy, which returns Francesco and Edoardo Molinari.


HOPEFULS AND FAILURES: As a reminder how quickly fortunes can turn in golf, consider Woody Austin in the Presidents Cup just four years ago. He fell face first into the water at Royal Montreal trying to play a shot and was nicknamed “Aquaman.”

As the Americans were winning at Royal Melbourne, Austin failed to get through the second stage of Q-school and now only has status as a past champion.

Austin wasn’t alone. Among others who failed to get through the second stage were past PGA Tour winnersWill MacKenzie, Joe Durant, Robert Damron, Ted Purdy, Parker McLachlin, Eric Axley and Frank Lickliter.

Advancing to the final stage were Tommy Armour III, former major champions Rich Beem and Lee Janzen, along with Boo Weekley, a favorite in the Ryder Cup just three years ago at Valhalla.

A pair of college kids who won this year on the Nationwide Tour had mixed results – Harris English advanced to the final stage next week in California, while Russell Henley did not. Henley, of course, still has full status in the minor leagues.

Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, also made it to the Q-school finals for the first time. Ty Tryon, who first earned his card in 2001 when he was 17, made it back to the final stage 10 years later.


DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson now has played 42 matches in the Presidents Cup, breaking the record held by Vijay Singh (40). When he lost to Adam Scott in singles, it ended an 11-match unbeaten streak for Mickelson in the Presidents Cup. … Gary Hallberg, the first of six players who earned PGA Tour cards without going to Q-school, was among five players who earned Champions Tour cards last week. The others were P.H. Horgan III, Jeff Hart, Jim Rutledge and Jeff Freeman. … Symetra has signed on as the umbrella sponsor for the LPGA’s developmental tour. It now will be called the Symetra Tour. … Those who buy tickets to the Memorial next year will get a one-time link that allows them access to Presidents Cup tickets in 2013 at Muirfield Village at a discounted rate of $165 for a grounds pass. That ticket normally is $207 for the week.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The Americans have a 7-1-1 record in the Presidents Cup. After the first nine matches at the Ryder Cup, the Americans had a 7-2-0 record.


FINAL WORD: “Just because we lost doesn’t mean to say we didn’t win.” International captain Greg Norman, whose team lost 19-15 to the Americans in the Presidents Cup.

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Descending into golf's depths, and trying to dig out

By Brandel ChambleeApril 23, 2018, 3:05 pm

Watching Alvaro Quiros finish second this past week in Morocco, I was reminded of just how rare it is for player to come back from the depths of golf hell.

Quiros, a player of immense ability, hype and length, won the Dubai World Championship – his sixth win in four years – to close out 2011 and then went down the rabbit hole of trying to change his golf swing. He would miss 11 cuts in 2012 and either miss the cut or withdraw in another 41 European Tour events over the next four years. Because he hadn’t won a major championship, his epic backwards slide in the world rankings (435th prior to this past week) mostly went unnoticed – but it was far from unusual.

Ian Baker-Finch won the 1991 Open Championship, but just three years later, when he played 20 events on the PGA Tour and missed 14 cuts, he no longer looked anything like a recent major champion. In 1995, he played in 18 events and either missed the cut, withdrew or was disqualified from every one of them. In 1996, he missed the cut in all 11 events he entered on the PGA Tour; and in 1997, he shot 92 in the first round of The Open, withdrew from the championship and stopped playing professional golf.

Like Quiros, Baker-Finch’s downfall came after his biggest win, when he finally thought he had the time, because of the 10-year exemption he received, to change his golf swing.

David Duval won the 2001 Open Championship and just two years later he shot 83-78 in the same event and missed the cut, which was one 16 events he either missed the cut or withdrew from that year. In 2005, he missed 18 cuts in 19 starts. Duval’s competitive demise may well have been precipitated by injuries and an existential malaise after winning golf’s oldest championship, but it was accompanied by queries far and wide as to how to correct his swing and thinking, just like Baker-Finch before him and Quiros thereafter.

These desperate searches for help, like the indelible ink stains on dyer’s hands, are the one common thread amongst those who suffer from the absolute negation of their technical and then creative abilities. Those who take as indisputable the theories of others are, in the deepest sense, wounding their own intuition. They are controverting the evidence of their own senses in such a way that is comforting to the insecure player, but tragic to the artist. To quote Carl Jung: “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.”

As I write this, PGA Tour winners Steven Bowditch (1,885th in the world) and Smylie Kaufman (337th) are in similar downward spirals in their careers and no doubt are desperate for, and susceptible to any suggestion.

One player they can look to who made it back from the frantic madness that accompanies losing one’s game, is Henrik Stenson. He put his trust in one man, Pete Cowen, even though while working with Pete he missed 14 cuts in 2002, followed by 15 missed cuts in 2003, and 11 in 2004. What Stenson did not do was panic and run from teacher to teacher, from shrink to shrink, as the missed cuts piled up.

Stenson, with Cowen’s help, slowly built one of the most reliable swings in the history of the game. A swing that regularly leads events in fairways found and greens hit in regulation. A swing that authored the lowest score ever shot in major championship history. A swing that is a far cry from the OB-launching swipes he was taking in late-2001 and 2002.

Given the soul-eating depths of where he came from, a place from which few have dug themselves out of, I watch Stenson play golf with a far great admiration than I otherwise would, and similarly was pulling for Quiros in Morocco. The same way I am pulling for Bowditch and Kaufman to find their games again.

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Langer skipping Senior PGA for son's HS graduation

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 2:53 pm

Defending champion Bernhard Langer will miss this year’s Senior PGA Championship to attend his son’s high school graduation.

Langer made the announcement Monday, during Senior PGA media day at Harbor Shores in Michigan. The event will be held May 24-27.

“I won’t be able to defend my title this year because my son graduates from high school that very same weekend,” he said. “Family comes first in my life, so I have to be there to celebrate.”

Langer said that his son, Jason, will play golf for the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Langer and his family live in South Florida.

Langer won last year’s event at Trump National outside Washington, D.C. The 60-year-old has no wins but three runners-up in eight senior starts this season.  

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Landry reaches OWGR career high after Valero win

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:40 pm

After notching his first career PGA Tour win at the Valero Texas Open, Andrew Landry also reached unprecedented heights in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Ranking.

Landry shot a final-round 68 at TPC San Antonio to win by two shots, and in the process he cracked the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time at age 30. Landry started the week ranked No. 114, but he's now up to 66th. The move puts him within reach of a possible U.S. Open exemption, given that the top 60 in the May 21 rankings will automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills.

Trey Mullinax went from No. 306 to No. 169 with his T-2 finish in San Antonio, while fellow runner-up Sean O Hair jumped 29 spots to No. 83 in the world. Jimmy Walker, who finished alone in fourth, went from No. 88 to No. 81 while fifth-place Zach Johnson moved up five spots to No. 53.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Alexander Levy took home the title at the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II, allowing the Frenchman to move from No. 66 to No. 47. With no OWGR points available at this week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Levy is guaranteed to stay inside the top 50 next week, thereby earning a spot in The Players.

Idle since an MDF result at the Houston Open, former world No. 1 Lee Westwood dropped two spots to No. 100 this week. It marks the first time Westwood has been ranked 100th or worse in nearly 15 years, ending a streak of consistency that dates back to September 2003.

The top 10 in the rankings remained the same, with Dustin Johnson leading off at No. 1 followed by Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose. Rickie Fowler remains No. 6 with Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia rounding out the top 10.

With no starts announced until the U.S. Open in June, Tiger Woods dropped two more spots to No. 91 in the latest rankings.

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What's in the bag: Valero Texas Open winner Landry

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 12:34 pm

Andrew Landry won his first PGA Tour event at the Valero Texas Open. Here's a look inside the winners' bag.

Driver: Ping G30 (9 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 65X shaft

Fairway woods: Ping G (14.5 degrees adjusted to 15.5), with Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75X shaft; (17.5 degrees), with Project X HZRDUS Yellow 85X shaft

Irons: Ping iBlade (3-PW), with Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 105 S shafts

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts

Putter: Ping PLD ZB-S

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x